Missing Pieces by Tim Weaver #BookReview #BlogTour @MichaelJBooks

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You don’t know your darkest secret.
But someone else does . . .

Rebekah Murphy knows too much. . .

She knows she’s alone on an abandoned island with a killer on her trail.
She knows that to get home to her children, she must survive long enough to understand why this is happening.
She knows someone tried to kill her for a secret.
What she doesn’t know is what that secret is . . .

Detective Frank Travis doesn’t know enough . . .

He doesn’t know where to find Louise Mason. He doesn’t know how and why she vanished into thin air three months ago. He doesn’t know the identity of the man last seen talking to her. Not yet.
But what he does know it that he’s a week away from retirement — and if he doesn’t find out where Louise went, no one will.

What neither Rebekah nor Detective Travis realise is that each holds a missing piece from the same puzzle — and it will cost them everything they love to finally solve it . . .

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We toss the term addictive around quite easily sometimes but you must take my word for it, Missing Pieces is crazy addictive!

It’s laughable in hindsight but when I had the book in my hands I was a little intimidated by how heavy it was, it counts 500 pages so I was a little scared to start with… but I flew right through them. It was an amazing read, and you know why I read it as fast as I could? Because nearly every chapter ended with a splendid cliffhanger. I swear sometimes I would think about stopping at the end of the chapter but then I would reach the end and I just found I COULD NOT STOP READING. 

It’s as much a survival story as it is a very compelling mystery and while I’m not always so into survival stories because they often show the same precut elements (being chased, struggling with the simplest survival skills etc.), it was a completely different story in Missing Pieces. Rebekah, the main character of the novel, is awesome, she’s very resourceful, she’s got what it takes and she’ll do anything to see her two children again.

The novel opens with Bek alone on the island but then also shifts between the time before she arrived there and detective Travis’s final days before his retirement. There’s one case Travis hasn’t cracked and with the hours ticking away he finds himself pushing himself to try and find some answers. I couldn’t work out at all how Louise Mason could be connected to Rebekah because artsy Louise seemed very far removed from mum-of-two Rebekah and they certainly didn’t seem to know each other.   

While Rebekah wonders why someone tried to kill her she is trying her best to survive in this utterly desolate place called Crow Island. The imaginary of the island itself was vivid and movie-worthy and it wasn’t even her struggle to find food that worried me the most but I was more afraid the lack of interaction with other human beings might prove to be the bigger threat for a deterioration of her state of mind. I rooted so much for her that I felt I couldn’t abandon her sometimes. Does that sound crazy? I know it does but really, I sometimes wanted to continue reading just to see how she would tackle a certain challenge. It’s not that I didn’t have faith in her, I just wanted to see what she would do and how and rather see her do it sooner than later. I did hold my breath at one particular time though when a situation that was built up over the course of the book became so tense and dangerous, it was really a make or break kind of moment and when I thought I could breath out again, I found it wasn’t over at all.

How are the women connected, is Travis going to solve the case, what happened to Johnny, who is after Rebekah, what ‘secret’ does she know, how is this all going to end? The questions just kept on coming and I was strung for answers. I highly anticipating the moment the ‘missing pieces’ of this puzzle would fall into place and the author certainly pulled it all perfectly together in the end. Missing Pieces is an incredible pacy read with a taut and compelling plotline that I hugely enjoyed. 

Where was I all these past years and why hadn’t I read any of his novels? I seriously regret not having read any of this author’s books before… what a big mistake! Missing Pieces is a brilliant standalone novel. Gripping is an understatement for this un-put-down-able mystery!

A big, big thank you to Chrissie Antoniou of Michael Joseph for the free paperback copy of this spell-bounding novel. This is my honest opinion.

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Missing Pieces Blog Tour

 

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay #BookReview #BlogTour #AlexFinlay @HoZ_Books

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay and a big thank you to Chrissie of Head of Zeus for the invite to read and review this great debut novel!

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University student Matt Pine has just received devastating news. Nearly his entire family have been found dead while holidaying in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI aren’t convinced – and they won’t tell Matt why.

The tragedy thrusts his family into the media spotlight again. Seven years ago, Matt’s older brother, Danny, was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his teenage girlfriend. Danny has always sworn he was innocent, and last year, a true crime documentary that claimed he was wrongfully convicted went viral.

Now his family’s murder is overlapping with Danny’s case, Matt is determined to uncover the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison. Even if it means putting his own life in danger, and confronting his every last fear.

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That opening chapter of Every Last Fear… BAM! I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be so in your face right from the start. The discovery of Matt’s dead family was a little bit shocking, yet intriguing and it certainly made me want to dive right into the story, so as far as first chapters go, I’ve got to give it credit, it’s easily one of the best I have come across in quite some time.

In general terms, I very much enjoyed the writing style of the author as well as the special format of the story building and it didn’t take me long at all to know that this was going to be a novel to devour and that I would need more hours in a day. There are several mysteries up in the air at the same time making Every Last Fear quite a rollercoaster read. The first being of course the murder of the family which had me guessing wildly why anyone would want to murder an entire family (assuming it wasn’t an accident of course but I thought that was a safe bet) but I could not see any reason for a very long time. The other plotline involves the possible false imprisonment of Matt’s other brother Danny. Matt is absolutely sure Danny’s guilty but his father Evan and sister Maggie were never convinced he did it and never stopped trying to prove otherwise. The small matter of fact is that Danny actually confessed, just to make things more complex. What happened 7 years ago isn’t just told in cold hard facts nor in flashbacks like is often the case in these type of novels, no it’s through the family’s investigation as well as parts of a documentary made after Danny’s arrest that an image took shape in my head until the rest was filled in at a much later point in the novel. 

There’s also a detective in the story, Sarah Keller, but – another surprise – she’s not appointed to investigate the family’s deaths (because they were claimed to be an accident) but leading a money-laundering investigation into Marconi LLP, the firm Evan Pine was employed at before he was made redundant. Did that mean we have to search in the direction of corporate fraud or were the answers lying elsewhere? It’s not Keller who leads us single handedly to the truth in this novel but there was a wonderful mix of leads being followed and progress brought on by several of the family’s characters. There were also parts of an interview with Evan Pine interspersed between the chapters which were intriguing to read and I hoped they would help me build a picture of what happened with Danny Pine and possibly hold a clue in them somewhere that could be useful later into the story.  

At around 60-65% I started to have a small inkling about some of the answers but it was really only in the last 10% of the novel that it all started to make a lot more sense. I absolutely loved that the author was able to keep me in suspense for so long, and although I’m still in two minds about whether the (entire) family really had to die and the motive, I enjoyed the outcome very much. 

Finally, a word of appreciation for making me feel the pain of losing this wonderful family. I knew four members of the family were dead right from the start, yet I couldn’t help hoping for another outcome at the end of the novel. They were so alive in all those pages, Maggie a wonderful tenacious investigator and Evan such a wonderful father, it made it all the more tragic.

Every Last Fear is a very commendable debut novel. I love the author’s fresh ideas and I’m sure we’ll be hearing from Alex Finlay in the future!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is as always my honest opinion.

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Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner #BlogTour #BookReview @arrowpublishing

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner. I don’t do book tours often anymore so you should know it takes a special kind of book or author to make me sign up and I didn’t have to think long at all to say ‘yes please’ to read and review this one. Take a look at this great blurb and tell me you’re not intrigued a little yourself:

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Frankie Elkin is an average middle-aged woman with more regrets than belongings who spends her life doing what no one else will: searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking.

A new case brings Frankie to Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation. She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager who vanished from her high school months earlier.

Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim’s wary family tells Frankie she’s on her own. And she soon learns she’s asking questions someone doesn’t want answered.

But Frankie will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing will be her …

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The author found inspiration for this novel when she stumbled upon some forums where ordinary people are united and are willingly giving up a lot of their free time trying to crack cold cases. There are more people who are active and invested in the many unsolved cases than you might think. She embodies these people in Frankie Elkin, a woman with a mission. Frankie has been travelling all over the country for over 10 years, her only ambition finding missing persons, to give families an answer to that burning question where their loved one is. So far none of them was found alive but she keeps this not unimportant fact from the families. Her motivation for being such a loner, bringing only a rucksack and travelling with the same old sparse set of clothes remains unclear until the end but it is obvious what motivates her is linked to a person of her past, a man named Paul who is absent from her life now but who she still appears to love dearly.

Frankie Elkin is a flawed and troubled soul but one that I could fully get behind. She has more than one demon and aside from the one she’s hiding, she’s quite open and upfront about her battle with alcohol. She goes to AA meetings wherever she is staying and even after 9 years of staying sober she can’t say she has slayed this dragon completely. I loved that she wasn’t perfect and it made her even more sympathetic in my eyes.

So one case finished Frankie scours the net and travels to the multi-cultural city of Mattapan, Boston to find 15-year old Angelique (Angel for her friends) Badeau. While risking her own life not only in certain areas of the city where it is unwise to walk around as a white person let alone a single white female, but also by getting out of bed in the morning and meeting the wreath of a maniacal cat called Piper who she shares her room with, Frankie is not intimidated by either one. She roams the city asking questions, going properly old-skool with her investigation, and while she didn’t receive a warm welcome at first, she does gain trust here and there and with detective Lotham finally aboard the investigation is re-energized although there are only more questions rising after her first significant discovery of a puzzling clue. What was Angelique getting into, the case gets weirder by the minute and Frankie is not out of harm’s way herself. The author kept me well in the dark about what was going on and while my mind was going in overdrive I did love every minute of it. It was great discovering how she was able to disappear with so much CCTV all around, but finding out the reason why she disappeared was even better and also different from any missing persons novel I have read so far.

I totally understand why readers would love to see Frankie Elkin (and the pub’s loveable landlord Stoney, Piper and detective Lotham) again in a series but since I’m rubbish at following series I’m quite happy this was a standalone. I read two, three of Lisa Gardner’s novels before (which can be read as standalones too) and I’m also a big fan of detective D.D. Warren so it was never even a question whether I was going to like Before She Disappeared. This author never fails to deliver and I’d really love to read more stories as intriguing as this one!

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I received a free paperback copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins #BookReview #Blogtour @AtkinsDani @HoZ_Books

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Beth Brandon always dreamed of owning a florist, but today the bouquets of peonies and bright spring flowers are failing to calm her nerves. Because today, Beth has a life-changing decision to share with her husband.

Izzy Vaughan thought she and her husband would stay together forever, but sometime last year, their love began to fade. They both find such joy in their young son Noah – but is he enough to keep them together?

Eight years ago, something happened to these two women. Something that is about to bring them together in a way no-one thought possible…

Purchase

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Author
Dani Atkins is an award-winning novelist. Her 2013 debut FRACTURED (published as THEN AND ALWAYS in North America) has been translated into sixteen languages and has sold more than half a million copies since first publication in the UK. Dani is the author of four other bestselling novels, one of which, This Love, won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2018. Dani lives in a small village in Hertfordshire with her husband, one Siamese cat and a very soppy Border Collie.

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Can I give more than 5 stars? A Million Dreams shot daggers through my heart. If you want to read a novel with heart and emotion you need to read this! I was completely lost in this novel again, just like it happened when I read This Love.

I loved that novel so I didn’t have to think twice when I saw the title of this new book and that there was a book tour being organised for it. So yes I was expecting to love it but I loved it even more than I thought, which is especially impressive given the baseline of this novel.

Now, I don’t know if anyone’s noticed it yet, but I usually stay away from novels that deal with that unfulfilled dream of having a child. I always fear that I won’t be able to experience it and feel it as deeply as someone who already has or wants to have children. Well, if there’s someone who has no problems squeezing my heart, then it’s certainly Dani Atkins.

Two women are prepared to fight for what they wanted most in life, except that it was the same dream they had. Oh the dilemma, it was excrutiating to follow and to decide on my own whose side I was on before the story told me the outcome. Alternating chapters following Beth and Izzy show their side of the story and of course the most unwelcome thing happened (winkwink), I liked both women immediately. After a while they were on opposite sides and I didn’t know who to cheer on. They were both right! How were they going to get out of this? How was this going to be solved? I actually know a real true story of a similar situation so I knew what the outcome was there and I did wonder if this would have the same one, but I had no idea how it was going to play out. Well I did say it’s an emotional story, right? It’s a story about a mother’s love that is sooo deep.

You really shouldn’t be allowed to read this novel outside of your home. A Million Dreams got me choked up as much in the beginning of the novel as at the end, and everything in between was a rollercoaster of happy, sad, hopeful, and every other feeling of the rainbow.

Enough said I think… I’m calling this one out as another winner by Dani Atkins!

I received an ecopy of this novel from the publisher, Head of Zeus, via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

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A Million Dreams

The Postcard Murder by Paul Worsley QC #BlogTour @midaspr #PaulWorsley #ThePostcardMurder

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Welcome to my stop for The Postcard Murder – A Judge’s Tale by Paul Worsley QC and thanks so much to MidasPR for the invitation to join this blog tour! I have an extract to share with you today but first check out how great this novel sounds.

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It may be of some satisfaction to you, Gentlemen of the Jury, to know that you have been engaged in one of the most remarkable trials that is to be found in the annals of the Criminal Courts of England. Mr Justice Grantham, Judge at the Old Bailey

This is a vintage whodunit set in Edwardian London at a crossroads in time, as social revolution and psychiatry posed new questions for the Law and for the first time the Media were co-opted to run a killer to ground.

The year is 1907: 22-year-old Emily Dimmock lies murdered in her Camden Town flat, her head all but severed from her body. With not a thread or stain or fingerprint to point to the perpetrator, a young artist is manouevred into the shadow of the scaffold.

The tale is told verbatim by witnesses presided over by the author, who draws on his own experience as a Judge at the Old Bailey to get inside the mind of the outspoken but irresolute Mr Justice Grantham. The result is as compelling today as it is definitive of the era in which the murder was committed.

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Author

Paul Worsley was for ten years a judge at the Old Bailey, where the Postcard Murder was tried. He now lives in rural North Yorkshire, where as a practising QC most of his murder cases took place. The Postcard Murder is the first in a series of books in which he gets into the mind of the trial judge in order to lay bare Justice as it was understood and dispensed in the manner of the day.

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Daddy’s Girls by Sarah Flint #BlogTour #Extract @SarahFlint19 @aria_fiction

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Welcome to my stop for Daddy’s Girls by Sarah Flint. Thanks so much to Aria Fiction for the invitation to join this blog tour! I have an extract to share with you today but first check out how wonderful this novel sounds.

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He wasn’t always a killer. At first, he just wanted to talk.

D.C. Charlie Stafford has an odd case on her hands. And it may be her toughest one yet.

A burglar who isn’t interested in valuables, the subject of Operation Greystream is a strange but smooth operator. In the dead of the night, gloved and masked, he visits the elderly. He doesn’t hurt them and, if they beg, he won’t take anything of real value. All he wants is conversation… and they’re powerless to refuse him.

But then 87-year-old Florence Briarly is found by her friend, cold to the touch and neatly, too neatly, tucked into bed. And Charlie realises this case has taken a sinister, urgent turn. Now this stealthy burglar has had a taste of murder, it’s only a matter of time until he craves it again…

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Author

With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partner and has three older daughters.

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Extract

It was dark when the man returned.

The man liked darkness. He liked the anonymity it provided. He had worked in darkness many times in the early years of his career and was at home in its obscurity. On one occasion, many years before, he had heard a politician being described on the TV as ‘having something of the night’ about him and the phrase had stuck in his head. It fitted him. It was him. There had always been something dark inside him that he had never been able to truly control. At times it had emerged, unbidden, but he had never been able to allow it free rein… until more recently.

He slipped into the bushes, retracing his previous route along the footpaths of the common until he came to a small, cramped spot of flattened foliage, right opposite the old woman’s house. It was perfect. In fact, the whole area was perfect. Streatham Common was a well-known location for the anonymous liaisons of gay men, so it was criss-crossed by walkways, some wide, some only lightly trodden, with small, circular patches where the shrubs had been compressed flat by the weekends’ illicit activities. Tonight, however, being a Monday, the common was quiet, as were the residential streets that bordered it, few cars other than those belonging to residents requiring access.

With gloved hands, the man carefully unfolded a square of waterproof sheeting, spread it out on top of the trodden leaves and crouched down on it, watching and listening at all times – but nothing stirred. Idly, he ran his fingers through his rucksack, double-checking that all his tools were in their correct places, cleaned and sharpened, ready to cut wires, score through putty, slip locks; if necessary keep control. He couldn’t risk making any mistakes. He was too good for that.

The old woman’s details were already seared into his memory. She was called Florence Briarly; he’d seen it on discarded correspondence. She was eighty-two years of age, subscribed to several charities and on the whole wasn’t taken in by junk mail, most being thrown away unopened. He knew all of this because he’d been there before, during daylight hours, as well as under cover of darkness, scoping out her house, checking the bins and memorising her night-time rituals.

She was a typical pensioner: she entertained only a handful of daytime visitors and spent evenings alone with just her TV for company. She got up at the same time every morning and she went to bed at the same time every night. She tended to shop and complete her chores in the mornings, took a short nap after lunch and entertained most visitors in the afternoon, before having tea at around 6 p.m. She chose not to drive, so if not being picked up would usually catch a bus. She did not appear to have a mobile phone and had little use for technology. A landline and TV were clearly all she needed, and that was all she had.

He allowed himself a smile of anticipation. She was perfect for what he wanted – and what he really wanted was conversation, a chance to get to know the real Florence Briarly. He loved the elderly. They held memories he loved to hear.

A light still shone from the downstairs window but soon it would begin its movement upwards, the meagre glow lighting her way up the stairs, onto the landing and into her bedroom. Old people were slaves to routine and Florence Briarly was no exception.

He checked his watch and made himself more comfortable, lying on the waterproof sheet and pulling the hood of his jacket tighter around his head, leaving only a small hole through which to peer. Even though the sun had been warm, now it was night, the chill dampness of the woodland seeped into his bones – but he didn’t care. He had spent many an hour rooted unmoving to a single spot in his youth. Doing so again only served to heighten the experience.

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The Bad Place by M.K. Hill #BlogTour #Extract #Giveaway @markhillwriter @HoZ_Books

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Hi booklovers! Welcome to my stop for Bad Place by M.K. Hill. Thanks so much to Vicky of Head of Zeus for the invitation to join this blog tour! Scroll down for book + author info, an exclusive excerpt and the chance to win a ecopy of this book for yourselves!

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The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.

That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet up annually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes.

Is history repeating itself? Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?

DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl…

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Author

Hill, M.K

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR. But I write the Drake and Crowley thriller series now, which is just as well, because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are plenty of ways to do it!

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Extract

The bell rang – ‘All change!’ – and Ajay stood. ‘Thank you,’ he said. ‘Have a nice evening.’

When he walked to the next table, she picked up the pencil to give him a score, but thought better of it.

Then the man in the Hawaiian shirt dropped into the chair, swinging one tattooed arm over the back, opening his legs wide – manspreading, she believed was the term – and favouring Sasha with an excellent view of his groin. Middle-aged, thickset, hair slicked back by lots of product.

‘Now you look interesting.’ Sasha leaned forward. ‘What’s your name?’

‘Darren.’ The man’s legs opened and closed like a pair of elevator doors. ‘Call me         Daz.’

‘Hello, Daz, I’m Sasha. Tell me about yourself.’

He grinned. ‘I’d rather we talked about us.’

Sasha gasped. It was an audacious start.

‘I’ll be honest with you, Sasha.’ His knees snapped together so that he could swing closer to the table. ‘You’re not my usual type, you’re probably a decade older than I’m used to.’

Sasha smiled sadly. ‘Devastated.’

‘But when I saw you earlier, I knew immediately, I said to myself, Daz, there’s something about that woman. She’s got a…’ He wiggled fingers heavy with jewellery in front of his face, trying to conjure the exact word. ‘A twinkle.’

Sasha listened gravely. ‘Do I really?’

‘You got a way about you. A mystery. Despite the…’ He grimaced at her unexpected shock of long white hair.

‘Go on,’ she said.

‘Wanna know what I’m thinking?’ Darren gestured around the pub. ‘This whole event is a big fat waste of time. It’s a charade.’
Sasha blinked. ‘Is it?’

He jerked his head, come closer, and Sasha leaned in. Darren picked up the sheet of paper and tossed it over his shoulder.

‘You don’t need to mark a stupid scorecard, because our attraction is obvious. We’re like the two ends of a magnet, me and you, compelled to attract. I see the desire in your eyes.’ His hands framed her face in the air. ‘Your beautiful eyes, which are like two hazel windows to your soul.’

‘Oh, Daz.’ Sasha swallowed. ‘And what do you see in my windows?’

‘I see a sensitive, sophisticated woman with womanly needs and appetites. You’ve got a thing for me.’ His eyes fastened on hers, his tongue slid slowly along the length of his top teeth. ‘And, no bullshit, I’ve a serious thing for you. So let’s get out of here, go somewhere more… intimate.’

‘I’d love to talk to you more. I know just the place we can go.’

Darren gave a satisfied grunt. ‘Now we’re talking.’ His hand crept across the table, but she coyly moved hers into her lap.

‘Let’s go to the station,’ she said.

‘The Station.’ Darren narrowed his eyes. ‘That a trendy new bar, is it?’

‘Oh, Daz, you’ve been to the police station many times.’ The bell dinged and Sasha made a sad face. ‘Time’s up, I’m afraid.’

Giveaway

If you want to read this novel, here’s your chance! I’m going to make it really easy this time, all you have to do is comment below that you want to win an ecopy of this novel (if you read the reviews of Shalini and Grace J Reviewerlady already you’ll know that they rate this one highly).

I will give each entry a consecutive number and will use a number generator to pick one lucky winner!

This giveaway is open for everyone and will close next Monday, which gives you plenty of time to enter :-). I’ll contact and announce the winner on Tuesday :-).

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The Bad Place Blog 1                The Bad Place Blog 2    The Bad Place Blog 3

 

Degrees of Guilt by HS Chandler #BlogTour #BookReview @HSCinkpen @Tr4cyF3nt0n @OrionBooks

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Welcome to my stop for Degrees of Guilt by HS Chandler. Thanks so much to tour organiser Tracy Fenton and publisher Orion Books for the invitation to join this blog tour! I already published my review in May on the blog but in case you missed it I’m posting it again today. This novel is so amazing, I can’t recommend it enough and I will tell everybody again and again!

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When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.

Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.

She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.

You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.

You will be wrong.

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I enjoy stories that involve morals and put you on the spot. I adore novels that provoke a reader and make you question the side you’re on. I love novels that secretly make you want to cheer the bad guy on..  it’s wrong to do so and you feel guilty but ok not all that much because sometimes, you know, it just can’t be helped. Degrees of Guilt is exactly this kind of brilliant novel, it hits all the high notes. In hindsight, I have to admit the title kind of gives it away but I was still very much unaware of it when I started reading this novel. I was ready to judge and condemn but I’ve never felt so torn.

The novel did start chillingly, with a woman, cold and rational, standing beside her dead husband. She also admits to the crime right away. How could this court case go then, it’s all rather clear cut, right? Awful crime, no remorse, big sentence to be expected. Well you might be mistaken there. There was a lot of background story that explains her current predicament. The novel massively challenged me to take mitigating circumstances into consideration. How much can be excused and can you ever understand why someone would murder someone else? I don’t know if I could say it out loud but eh deep down I understood why she did it for one hundred percent. What the outcome, the verdict would be was a big mystery though, and what I wanted it to be and how the jury saw it and if we were on the same page at all, I can’t say.

At first there wasn’t a bone in my body that made me consider her innocent but as the days progressed it was obvious that she was a victim too, trapped in a loveless marriage. I have read plenty novels with disturbing content and domestic abuse before but the author detailed her daily horrors so perfectly, it was such a quiet venom that poured from the pages, it would melt the coldest of hearts. A big tipping point and a scene that had a big impact on me was when I read about the tampons. I don’t know why that stood out but I think it’s something that is just completely our (a woman’s) business and everyone else should keep out of it.

Even though I knew what she had done and saw the damage together with the jury, I couldn’t help sympathise with Maria almost from the beginning. I believed her, I wanted to believe her, although I didn’t really know why she felt the need to lie about parts of her story. Why would she do that? A tiny part of me did feel a moment’s hesitation there about her. I didn’t know what to think.

Degrees of guilt is a domestic drama mixed with fantastic scenes in the courtroom and let’s not forget the sizzles between Lottie and hottie Cameron. Gawd there’s electricity crackling in the air! Their game was tantalising to watch unfold and he was sooo hot I could feel my own cheeks burn ;-). I found it a bit odd to insert this into such a novel but then it did help to lighten up the story a little and in the end it just worked out brilliantly.

Degrees of Guilt is definitely one of the best releases of the year for me. The novel demands to take a stance about the justice in this case and what you think is fair, it is so heartfelt, you just can’t not think about it when you’re not reading it. What would you do if you were on the jury? I can tell you it’s a difficult one because our heart and our head speak a different language when reading this novel! I can’t believe this is the first novel by HS Chandler / Helen Fields I read but it most definitely won’t be the last.

I received a free ecopy via Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

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NEW Degrees of Guilt blog tour 2

Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson (Roy & Castells Book 3) #BlogTour #BookReview @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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Welcome to my stop for Blood Song by Johana Gustawson. Thanks so much to Orenda Books and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation to join this blog tour! Before you read my review, check out how wonderful this novel sounds first:

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The action swings from London to Sweden, and then back into the past, to Franco’s Spain, as Roy & Castells hunt a monstrous killer … in the lastest instalment of Johana Gustawsson’s award-winning series

Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.

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Author

Johana Gustawsson

Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons.

She drew on her own experience of fertility clinics and IVF to write Blood Song and is happy to speak and write pieces about this.

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I’ve been putting off writing this review… dear god no, not because I didn’t like this novel, it’s more because this one’s making it hard to find the right words without sounding like a crazy fan. You see I’ve been with this series since the first novel and each one is so special. I’m not an historical reader but this author really made me one. Gustawsson entangles crime and historical facts like none other and creates a unique reading experience. If you ask me this is a collector’s item you want to have in your library.

Block 46 took me to WW2 and the author won me over with that one easily. Book 2, Keeper, took me to the era of Jack The Ripper, and I knew then that I’d follow her writing wherever she took me. Blood Song sent me to new territory. I’m almost ashamed to say that I knew little to nothing about the dictatorship under Franco in Spain. The descriptions – based on what was really happening at that time – in prison and the orphanage were harsh and brutal but lent itself well to tell this murder mystery.

Johana Gustawsson plays with time and my mind, and those pages just wouldn’t stop turning themselves. She let me visit Spain in 1937 as well as Sweden in 2016. How both timelines could ever be aligned is something that seemed impossible but she manages to accomplish just that. I’m not getting into the plotlines this time at all, it’s too big and deep to cover, but I can tell you that there were staggering twists in this novel that are sure to startle everyone and it is all tied up brilliantly. Teresa, Gordi, Lados… their story will stay with me for a long time.

I can 100% recommend this novel to every crime loving reader who isn’t afraid of a dark but fascinating read.

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FINAL BloodSongBT

Best Friends Forever by Dawn Goodwin #BlogTour #GuestPost

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Welcome to my stop for Best Friends Forever by Dawn Goodwin. Thanks so much to Vicky at Aria Fiction for the invitation to join this blog tour! I have a great guestpost to share with you today on the author’s POV about negative reviews, but first check out how wonderful the blurb already sounds.

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Have you ever wanted to kill your best friend?

Anna was the perfect wife. Perfect mother. Perfect woman. And now she’s dead. Leaving behind her husband, David, and two young children their lives will never be the same. But Vicky will make sure life goes on…

These two women have been best friends forever, a lifetime of secrets lies between them and now Vicky is ready to step up into Anna’s perfect shoes. But not everything is as it seems and as David begins to question Vicky’s motives for walking into his life things might just get a little murderous.

The question on everyone’s lips is, who killed Anna? And what actually happened on the night she died?

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Author

Dawn Goodwin

Dawn’s career has spanned PR, advertising and publishing. Now, she loves to write about the personalities hiding behind the masks, whether beautiful or ugly. Married, she lives in London with her two daughters and a British bulldog called Geoffrey.

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Guestpost

How to Grow Your Own Rhino Skin

My third novel, “Best Friends Forever”, has just hit the shelves. All my hard work will hopefully have paid off and I will be revelling in 5-star Goodreads and Amazon reviews as my book flies up the charts. It is a story I loved writing, taking me back to the 1980s and memories of friends made and lost over the years, and I really hope readers will enjoy it just as much.

But let’s be realistic. There are always going to be those who don’t like your work, whether it’s the characters or the plot or just the way you write. Many of the characters I create are certainly not likeable people and that doesn’t always sit well with some readers, those that want to fall in love with the hero or heroine and root for them against all odds.

This isn’t my first rodeo. When my debut novel, “The Accident”, was published, I naively thought everyone would love it as much as I still do. I had spent years in the heads of the characters. They were a part of me, like one large, dysfunctional family, complete with the relative you would never invite to Christmas. But that wasn’t the case. While the majority of reviews were (and still are) incredibly positive and leave me warmed with pride, there have also been some savage ones and I have come to realise that if I want to continue as a writer, I will have to develop the skin of a rhinoceros.

Even now, a few years after “The Accident” was published, I feel wounded by a negative review. I read one recently that alluded to the fact that I had obviously written it quickly and that “perhaps putting more effort into the story, character and plot would boost author credibility”. Wow, tell me what you really think…. The truth of the matter is that I spent several years developing the plot and characters, agonising over the details and reworking it. As my finger hovered over the “Comments” button, I wanted to reply and tell the reader how much her review had stung, detail how much work had gone into writing the book and point out that her review may well have put future readers off.

Then I took a breath… and logged out.

How many times had I read a book I didn’t like? Sure, as a writer, I am conscious that there is a person behind the book that has worked really hard and therefore I am more inclined to write that it just wasn’t for me rather than cutting it to shreds. But what I have come to realise was that this wasn’t a personal attack on me. Reviews are very important to writers. It means we are being read. I’d like to think this woman will mention the book to a friend, tell them how awful she thought it was, and that friend will look it up, see the many 5-star reviews it has achieved and decide to read it for themselves. The negative reviews legitimise the positive ones, sparking debate and piquing interest, and I am always thankful to readers who take the time to post a review, whether good or not – and obviously enormously grateful that they have bought the book in the first place.

Writing for an audience will always be a brutally humbling career. From the moment you send out your first manuscript and ask an agent to read it, you are opening yourself up to judgement, laying yourself bare and asking a complete stranger, “So what did you think?” If you’re lucky, you will be snapped up fairly quickly, but realistically it could take months and months (if not years) of rejections; some gentle, others less so. So you have to be persistent, thick-skinned – and possibly a little bit crazy – to keep going.

But would I have it any other way? Certainly not. The fact that I feel every bad review like the prick of a needle means I care. And if I care, then whatever I write on the page has been done with sweat, tears and love for my job.

It is my hope that the majority of readers will love “Best Friends Forever” and will come away from reading it feeling moved in some way and thinking that the money they spent was worthwhile in that I provided them with a few hours of escapism and entertainment. And if you feel moved enough to write a review, please treat it like you would when appraising your child’s dodgy attempt at painting. Remember that there is a person behind that book who has spent years working on it, perfecting it, creating a world from their own imagination and investing a lot of emotion in it. But if it’s not your cup of tea, I’ve still done you a service by making you spend your £3 on a book that exercised your brain rather than on a muffin that you may regret later.

You can thank me by leaving a good review….

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